Gandhinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked mayors of BJP-ruled urban bodies to plan a holistic development of cities and said the elected representatives should not think just in terms of winning polls as cities cannot be developed with an election-centric approach.
He also urged the mayors to focus on urban planning, creation of satellite towns and development of Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities to ease the burden on large cities.
Modi was speaking after virtually inaugurating an all India conference of mayors of BJP-ruled cities held in Gujarat capital Gandhinagar.
As many 118 mayors and deputy mayors of BJP-ruled urban local bodies from 18 states and Union Territories are participating in the two-day event.
The PM also urged mayors and other local elected representatives to spend time with the poor beneficiaries (of government schemes) to understand their issues and also work on the beautification of their respective cities.
”The elected representatives should not think just in terms of winning elections. You cannot develop your city with an election-centric approach. Many times, decisions which could prove beneficial for the cities are not taken just out of the fear that such decisions can result in election loss,” the PM said at the inaugural session of the conference.
He said states should take the lead in urban planning instead of just depending on the Centre.
Recalling his days as Gujarat chief minister, Modi said the state was ahead of other states in adopting the latest urban transport systems and utilities, such as the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, app based auto-rickshaw services and multi-modal transport systems He said the Metro rail network in different cities of India was less than 250 kilometres in 2014 and has now increased to more than 750 km, while work is going on for another 1,000 km.
”Today, we are developing 100 smart cities across the country and so far, we have completed projects worth Rs 75,000 crore. Urban housing is a major challenge for cities. Under our PM Awas Yojna (urban), we have so far allotted 1.25 crore houses to the poor,” the PM said.
The budget for housing projects has been increased from Rs 20,000 crore in 2014 to Rs 2,00,000 crore today, he said.
”This shows our commitment towards the urban poor population,” Modi said.
”Do you (mayors) sit with them and discuss their issues? We only assume that since it has been published in newspapers, the work must have been done. The more you meet the poor and work for them, they will return it with a bonus. I urge you to finish projects in time and without any compromise on quality,” he said.
The prime minister also appealed to mayors to ensure registration and training of all street vendors so that they can avail loans under the PM Svanidhi scheme.
He also urged the mayors to focus on urban planning and creation of satellite towns as well as developing Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities to ease the burden on large cities.
”You all need to think about the future. Urban planning should not be ad-hoc. We can standardise urban planning through formulating policies. This will also eliminate grey areas,” he said.
The PM also stressed on increasing people’s participation in maintaining public assets, such as gardens.
”Not everything can be achieved by spending money. People’s participation is also necessary. People’s participation is necessary for development. We have to change their habits like throwing garbage in the open and wasting water,” he said. He stressed on the ”beautification of cities”, which can be achieved by organising competitions among wards as to which one is cleaner and more beautiful than the other.
The prime minister also urged mayors to think of setting up a ”city museum” to showcase the heritage, history and what is unique to the city.
Modi also appealed to the mayors to create a common WhatsApp group to share their ideas and best practices.